In Taiwan there are several developments spurring out of the tea market related to tea making, most notably built around combining tea leaves and dried fruit to form organic tea blends. This method first appeared in the market in the early 1990s when tea farmers in Taiwan found scents from nearby fruit plantations were entering their tea fields, causing the overall aroma and taste to change. Luckily, rather than getting rid of the crops the farmers decided to enhance the flavor even more by drying up the fruit and combing various types of tealeaves during the heating and fermentation processes to make what is known as an alternative form of fruit tea or 水果茶as they say in Chinese.
Typically, fruit tea is black or green tea (usually black) that has already been brewed and steeped to where it is of normal taste or slightly less than normal in order to avoid bitterness when mixed with fruit. The brewed tea is then added to a pot of chopped up fruit, which typically includes a mixture of apples, pineapple, strawberries, lemons, kiwi, and peaches, in addition to any other type of fruit you may find enjoyable. However, we should note that we have not seen bananas, dragon fruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, blackberries or blackberries added so we can’t verify the taste but this shouldn’t stop you from trying!
Despite this popular and tasty drink that is both refreshing and tasty, you can in fact buy already-prepared fruit tea – a new concept to the tea market that has only existed in small pockets and niches of tea culture in Asia. In Taiwan, for example, there are lemons that are dried and preserved and later mixed with Puer tea to give it an earthy and tangy taste. This blend has become extremely popular for helping cure sore throats and is also known for helping people bump up their vitamin intake. When drunk, the tea also produces a very strong Qi (energy) that warms up the body, making it a great way to reduce risk from cold and heat up the body during colder periods.
Another fruit being used in a similar way is oranges. Left with the peel on under the sun to dry and combined with Puer tea during heating, you are left with a black ball that is both extremely fragrant and healthy. When first looking at these black oranges you may feel they look a bit strange but the smell is so fresh and preserved due to its heating process in which the flavor of the orange is actually preserved underneath the tea. If stored properly, tealeaves can act as a type of shield from preventing the aroma to dissipate while also keeping the fruit’s nutrients stored. Not only do you get a tea that tastes great and healthy, but you also get exposed to a whole new method for preserving fruit, something of which we think is revolutionary.
These oranges and lemons need to be grinded down into small pieces in order to make them fit in a teapot. Typically, a pick is used to take out the top portion of the fruit to open it up and then either a small hammer/grinder is used to chop it down into chunks. Do not be surprised if you get a lot of powder. One orange can easily get you 3-4 different servings of tea and boiling water needs to be used in order to bring out the flavor from both the tea and fruit as it is heated more than other leaves due to this unique blend.
We also expect to see this type of tea with peaches and apples but perhaps with green tea and black tea. The issue in combining these tastes is aiming to create a balanced taste while preserving the aroma of green tea, which can easily be disrupted if overcooked. However, we trust these farmers will find a way and once these new products hit shelves we will make sure to keep you updated.